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WHISE Calls for Action: Championing Gender Equality and Respect After Yarra Valley Grammar Incident

Women's Health in the South East 3 mins read
Placard reading 'WOMAN ALSO HUMAN'

In the wake of the deeply disturbing incident at Melbourne’s Yarra Valley Grammar School involving the objectification of female students, Women's Health in the South East (WHISE) recognises the need for a community-wide discussion centered around a positive future vision for young men and boys. 

Kit McMahon, CEO of WHISE, acknowledged the gravity of the situation, stating, "The behaviors exposed at Yarra Valley Grammar are deeply concerning and highlight the urgent need to address the underlying attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate gender inequality and violence." 

“This incident is a wake-up call for all of us. We must work together to create a safer, more equitable future where no one is left behind in our pursuit of ending gender-based violence, and where boys and men are empowered to embrace a positive vision of masculinity rooted in respect, equality, and emotional well-being.

"We agree with our colleagues who work every day with men and boys to prevent violence against women and girls, that gender inequality negatively impacts all genders and drives harmful behaviours such as those at Yarra Valley Grammar."

McMahon emphasised that a single program or strategy is not enough to address the complex issue of gender-based violence. 

"We need a multi-faceted approach that includes continued support for gender equity initiatives across various settings, increased accountability for schools that fail to implement whole-school approaches effectively, and long-term funding for primary prevention programs targeting boys, men, and the entire population." 

WHISE stands firm in its dedication to championing gender equality, respect, and the prevention of gender-based violence through a comprehensive, community-driven approach. This aligns with the principles outlined by Respect Victoria, the state's lead agency for the primary prevention of all forms of family violence and violence against women. 

WHISE has been supporting practitioners across the Southern Metropolitan Region (SMR) to understand and implement the Respectful Relationships Education (RRE) initiative, enabling schools in the region to effectively implement the Whole School Approach to RRE. 

"When done well, Respectful Relationships Education is a powerful tool," McMahon said. 

"In fact, the SMR has had the single biggest increase in positive attitudes towards respectful relationships across Victoria." 

WHISE advocates for the following actions by the government to promote gender equality, respect, and violence prevention: 

  1. Strengthen implementation of Respectful Relationships Education (RRE): Ensure effective implementation of the Whole School Approach to RRE in all schools, with increased support and accountability measures for schools failing to adopt and integrate RRE effectively into their curriculum. 

  1. Long-term funding for primary prevention programs: Allocate sustained funding for primary prevention programs targeting boys, men, and the broader community, focusing on challenging harmful gender norms and promoting respectful relationships from an early age. 

  1. Community-wide dialogue on positive future vision for boys and men: Facilitate discussions within communities to foster a positive vision for young men and boys, emphasising opportunities for active fatherhood, pursuit of personal interests, and the cultivation of emotionally enriching and mutually respectful relationships. 

  1. Challenge harmful societal narratives: Actively challenge societal narratives that normalise harmful behaviours among boys and men, promoting a future where emotional expression, well-being prioritisation, and meaningful connections are valued and encouraged for all individuals, irrespective of gender. 

  1. Systemic changes and educational initiatives: Advocate for systemic changes, educational initiatives, and community-driven programs that dismantle the root causes of gender-based violence, aligning with the vision of Respect Victoria for a future where all Victorians can live free from violence and discrimination. 

WHISE's efforts are grounded in evidence-based strategies and align with Respect Victoria's vision of a future where all Victorians can live free from violence and discrimination. WHISE is committed to continuously advocating for systemic changes, educational initiatives, and community-driven programs that dismantle the root causes of gender-based violence and promote a society built on respect, equality, and empowerment for all.

-------------------------END---------------------------------------

Kit McMahon, CEO Women's Health in the South East will be available for interview upon request.


About us:

WHISE is a leading health promotion and primary prevention organisation dedicated to improving women's health and wellbeing in the Southern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne. WHISE forms part of a network of Women’s Health Services across Victoria. Working in partnership with various stakeholders, WHISE advocates for gender equity, conducts research, delivers health promotion initiatives, and provides capacity-sharing support to enhance the delivery of women's health services. For more information, visit www.whise.org.au  


Contact details:

Dos Hetherington

Communications Lead, Women's Health in the South East

E: dhetherington@whise.org.au

M: 0412 317 334

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